It was almost a decade ago when President Obama made his debut at the Gridiron Club dinner as a young senator. And how those nine years have aged him was mined for jokes throughout the evening Saturday at the annual dinner, where Obama spoke for a third time as president (and fourth time overall). More than 650 journalists, politicians, and other Washington insiders joined the exclusive event, which is closed off to the cameras. In the name of good fellowship, politicians “put aside their differences for an evening of laughter, schmoozing and charity fundraising,” notes the Associated Press.
The Washington Post delivers a good explanation of the dinner and its appeal:
The dinner is a love letter to a Washington that never really existed — a romanticized place where politicians, despite all the squabbling, share an abiding respect for each other, the press and the political process. If it was ever true, it’s certainly not now — but it must be nice to pretend for a few hours.
Obama delivered jabs all around, including several directed at himself last night. Here are his best jokes (full transcript available here):
- Now, let’s face it, being president does age you. I mean, look at me. … You start getting crankier as you get older. Next week, I’m signing an executive order to get off my lawn.
- It is amazing, though, how time flies. Just a few years ago, I could never imagine ever being in my 50s. And when it comes to my approval ratings, I still can’t.
- Think about how things have changed since 2008. Back then, I was the young, tech-savvy candidate of the future. Now I’m yesterday’s news and Hillary has got a server in her house. I didn’t even know you could have one of those in your house. I am so far behind. Did you know that? I would have gotten one.
- Despite a great performance tonight, Scott has had a few recent stumbles. The other week he said he didn’t know whether or not I was a Christian. And I was taken aback, but fortunately my faith teaches us forgiveness. So, Governor Walker, as-salamu alaykum.
- We also have Dr. Ben Carson. He wants to make it clear that being here was a choice. The fact is, doctor, embracing homosexuality is not something you do because you go to prison. It’s something you do because your vice president can’t keep a secret on Meet the Press.
- This new Congress is just getting started, which is why I want to acknowledge the leader of the House Republicans—as soon as I figure out who that is.
- I got flak for appearing on a video for BuzzFeed, trying to reach younger voters. What nonsense. You know, you don’t diminish your office by taking a selfie. You do it by sending a poorly written letter to Iran. Really, that wasn’t a joke.
The laughter wasn’t exclusive to Obama. Earlier, Gov. Scott Walker poked fun at Clinton’s email scandals. “I really do have a lot of close friends who are Democrats,” Walker said. “I even have Hillary’s private email. It’s HillaryClinton@Wallstreet.com. You know the best part of that joke? Elizabeth Warren wrote it for me.” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also mined a recent scandal for laughs: “Are any of the Secret Service sober enough to drive me home?”